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COVID-19: It could be three weeks before it is known whether Indian variant will sabotage lockdown roadmap, expert warns | Political news

According to a former senior government science adviser, it could be another “two to three weeks” before it is clear whether the final step in lifting the lockdown can proceed safely.

Professor Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, told a German media briefing that the precise biological advantage of the variant over previous versions of the virus remains unclear.

If it is only 20-30% more transmissible and has a low impact on vaccine effectiveness, it would lead to a third wave of infections significantly smaller than initially feared, he said.

Even before variant B.1.617.2 was considered a concern, models showed that COVID cases would increase over the summer and fall following the lockdown on June 21.

The four stages of lifting the lockdown in England
The four stages of lifting the lockdown in England

Hospital admissions were not expected to increase so quickly because most vulnerable people would have received two doses of the vaccine.

But at an event hosted by the Science Media Center in Germany, Professor Ferguson said it was too early to be sure of the impact of the Indian variant on the numbers.

“It’s not how much cases are increasing, but how fast,” he said.

“If they double every 10 to 14 days and hospital admissions follow the same pattern, then there is a problem. We expected the cases to increase as we relax the restrictions, but if they do increase too quickly, that’s a problem. “

Professor Ferguson said the UK is in a much better position now than when the Kent variant appeared in December. Infection levels are low and vaccination rates are high, which will help control the virus.

Singapore data suggests that the Indian variant is more common in children.

Professor Ferguson said there were “signals” in the UK that people under the age of 21 are more likely to be infected with the variant than other versions of the virus.

But he added that uncertainty remains as to whether …

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This notice was published: 2021-05-26 16:04:00